Even the most experienced pro-life activist can benefit from this project. Ongoing education on life issues, strategies and how we can better communicate our life-affirming message is beneficial to everyone.
Cads, Calumniators and Critics
(Note: The words “Boycott List” and “Boycott Handbook” are used herein. They refer to the same publication.)
Over the years, LDI has been the target of harsh criticism from a few individuals who identify themselves as “pro-life.” We do not falsehoods go unchallenged, especially since diminishes, undermines and occasionally destroys our work, which can only aid the Culture of Death. When confronting our accusers, we always adhere to Matthew 18:15-17:
15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. 16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. 17And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.
We welcome questions.
LifeNews embarked on a warpath after a person or persons not associated with LDI asked that the company sever a business relationship with a boycott target. In response, Steve Ertelt publicly accused LDI of knowingly including corporations in The Boycott Handbook that do not fund Planned Parenthood—and the corporation LifeNews was patronizing happened to be one of the “falsely accused.” Ertelt claimed to have requested documentation from LDI that shows the corporation in question should indeed be a boycott target, but we flatly refused to provide it. All such statements/accusations are—completely and without qualification—false. There is not even the slightest hint of truth.
Ertelt has made specific accusations and refused to do the right thing despite being confronted in a biblical manner. What motivates Ertelt is unknown (LDI had done the research on alternatives to the corporation in question.) Whatever the reason, be it real or imagined, we are not talking about a person who is speaking out of ignorance. We are talking about a person who is calculatingly making statements he knows to be false.
Imagine the legal nightmare that would ensue if—even once—LDI included a corporation in The Boycott Handbook that did not deserve to be there. The obvious response would be a lawsuit filed against LDI by the maligned corporation(s). While many corporations over the years have threatened to sue us, none has done so. Why? We tell the truth, which is the greatest defense of all.
The legal nightmare would be accompanied by a moral and ethical disaster. Our reputation would be destroyed. A reputation for the highest level of integrity in our work is essential. LDI is known for accuracy; for printing and speaking the verified and reverified truth. This includes our dealings with everyone (pro-life activists, the media, pro-abortion activists, lawmakers, corporate officials, et. al.). Most important by far is our unabashed commitment to the Creator of all Life and His teachings through Holy Scripture.
We find it difficult to come up with even one reason why someone who claims to be pro-life would not choose to participate in such an easy and highly effective project. Nevertheless, anyone choosing to ignore the boycott is free to do so as this is a matter between each individual and God. On the other hand, pro-life/pro-family organizations have far less legitimate justification for refusing to participate as they are not acting as individuals. But please let no one resort to bearing false witness by making phony or misleading allegations that, fundamentally, are outright lies. We welcome legitimate criticism, but the flagrant display of such sin hurts every pro-life person and true follower of Christ.
This statement about Ertelt’s behavior has appeared here for quite some time. After reading the statement, a supporter of both LDI and LifeNews figured he would do a little digging. He knew someone was knowingly lying—either LDI or Ertelt. Like a dog with a bone, the pro-life gentleman, “Rodney,” refused to let go until he independently uncovered the truth. In so doing, he communicated with Ertelt via email.
Rodney’s initial email to Ertelt:
I recently received a new copy of The Boycott List from Life Decisions International and they said a very alarming thing in this publication, namely that one of the “persons knowingly engaging in deception is Steve Ertelt of LifeNews”!! The “deception” to which they refer is falsely accusing LDI of putting corporations on The Boycott List who do not support Planned Parenthood and of refusing to provide documentation of this. They write “all such statements/accusations are—completely and without qualification—false.”
Is this true? I like LifeNews very much and recently sent you a donation, but, if LifeNews is engaging in this kind of “deception,” I will not be supporting LifeNews again. Please advise.
Ertelt was quick to responded:
What is sadly ironic is the opposite is true. We have NEVER publicaly [sic; emphasis added] done any of the things LDI is accusing LifeNews of doing. However, quite a number of pro-life leaders have had questions about LDI for some time and about the accuracy of the information they are providing and why they don’t release their boycott list to anyone who doesn’t pay for it. Their own investigations have found that some boycott targets may have not actually supported Planned Parenthood or have stopped but thei [sic] name remains on the list. I have also questioned the accuracy of the information because other pro-life groups have provided me information that some boycott targets really shouldn’t be on the list in the first place or other companies known to give to PP are not on the list. For example some PP boycott targets merely have an affinity program that any non-profit organization can sign up for to receive donations—whether that is Planned Parenthood or a church, Pregnancy Center, pro-life group Etc. Does that really constitute purposeful Direct Corporate giving to Planned Parenthood or is it merely a program that any group can sign up for?
There are a couple of boycott corporations in particular that I have sought information for that LDI has never provided to us. Apparently asking for that information and questioning the accuracy of the boycott list somehow is engaging in deception and lying and [sic] their minds.
LifeNews [sic] also probably under attack from this organization because we are relying on other pro-life groups for additional research and reporting on which corporations actually donate to Planned Parenthood. We have extensively reported on another organization that is spending considerable time keeping track of this information and apparently LDI doesn’t like that.
It appears this organization is the only one engaging in deception. Unlike LDI, LifeNews will not publicly trash another pro-life organization simply because we disagree. Hope this helps.
Roderick had some follow-up questions/points:
It is very unfortunate indeed that there is this kind of dissension and confusion in the pro-life movement. It is very difficult for pro-lifers like me to figure out what is going on and why there is this dissension.
I have been supporting LDI and subscribing to The Boycott List for many years and this is the first time I have become aware of this dissension. Please allow me to attempt to defend them as best I can based on what I think I know. If I fail in this attempt, you are certainly welcome to reply and let me know where/how I have failed.
1) I had the same question when I first subscribed about having to pay for the list and I regret that I cannot now remember what their reply was at that time, but I am guessing that it had to do with (a) supporting their work financially, and (b) protecting the list from indiscriminate distribution and unauthorized change. I can contact LDI again with this question since, surprisingly, I cannot now find an answer to it on their website.
2) You write, “Their own investigations have found that some boycott targets may have not actually supported Planned Parenthood or have stopped but their name remains on the list.” This is very surprising and, frankly, hard to believe. LDI has been saying for years that their research is painstakingly meticulous and careful and they also say, quite credibly I think, that, if this were not true, they would be the target of many lawsuits. The fact that they have not been sued (to my knowledge) by ANY of these big, affluent corporations would seem to suggest to me that their list is ironclad!
3) You write “other pro-life groups have provided me information that some boycott targets really shouldn’t be on the list in the first place or other companies known to give to PP are not on the list.” Forgive me, but what reason do you have to believe that this information from “other pro-life groups” is as reliable, or more reliable, than LDI’s information? LDI asserts, and I am inclined to believe them for many reasons, that their list is completely reliable, while that of other Johnny-come-lately’s and only occasional dabblers in this enterprise of identifying PP supporters is NOT as reliable.
4) I was not aware of the “affinity programs” that you mention, but, frankly, I do not fault LDI—AT ALL—for targeting companies that have this kind of program—no corporation should be making funds available to PP—AT ALL—by any means!!
5) LDI asserts, as I said in my previous email, that claims that they “refus[e] to provide documentation of [what is on their list]… are—completely and without qualification—false.” Your claim that they have indeed refused your requests for this documentation is hard to believe. If you insist again that they have indeed refused requests from you for documentation of this kind, I will contact them and press them on this point.
6) You write “LifeNews also probably under attack from this organization because we are relying on other pro-life groups for additional research and reporting on which corporations actually donate to Planned Parenthood. We have extensively reported on another organization that is spending considerable time keeping track of this information and apparently LDI doesn’t like that.”
LDI claims repeatedly that no other pro-life organization’s information on which corporations support PP is as reliable as its own. This could be just hubris or possessiveness. However, I can easily believe LDI’s claims in this case. No other organization that I am aware of has so single-mindedly and for so long focused on this mission. And, if they are right about other lists and other information not being as reliable, I do not blame them one bit for insisting that the pro-life movement should rely on the most definitive list (theirs) and NOT undermine the pro-life movement by foolishly relying on the far less definitive lists.
7) Finally, you write “It appears this organization is the only one engaging in deception. Unlike LDI, LifeNews will not publicly trash another pro-life organization simply because we disagree.” Well, it is NOT simply a matter of “disagreement”!! It is a matter of honesty and integrity!! They are accusing you of dishonesty. So, the question is, are you being dishonest, or are they? This is important—it is NOT just a matter of disagreeing. It is a matter of integrity. And, furthermore, if you are indeed the one who is being dishonest, they are not “trashing” you, they are very properly exposing the lack of integrity on the part of someone whom many in the pro-life movement trust and rely on. If that someone lacks integrity, the pro-life movement has a right, indeed an obligation, to find out about this and act accordingly.
Ertelt chose to forgo responding to the points made and questions raised in Rodney’s email—not even one. He claimed this is due to limited time. Ertelt’s only response:
Thanks for the reply. I don’t have the time nor desire to do a point by point response or rebuttal. LifeNews will continue to report on corporate sponsors of Planned Parenthood using the best and most accurate information we can find. Thanks for standing for life!
Rodney began to “read the writing on the wall”:
Sorry to get this reply from you. I’ve always appreciated what LifeNews does for the pro-life movement, but, based on this reply, I do not think I will be able to support you financially any more. And I will continue to believe in, and support, and defend, LDI as I have now for a long time.
Ertelt became increasingly agitated by the insistence for a direct response to Rodney’s email:
Wow. Remember your reply the next time someone lies about you and you’d rather not spend time and effort having to refute them.
Rather than allowing Ertelt to use the convenient go-to response of “I don’t have time” to point out where LDI is wrong about the direct and specific accusations, Rodney pressed even harder in his quest for answers:
I am really, really puzzled, and disturbed, by your last 2 replies (including the one above). If someone lied about me, and it were public, and important for me to clear my name, and possible for me to do so, I would move heaven and earth to do so. I would NOT care that it took me a lot of time, energy, and/or money to clear my name – I would clear my name at all costs. Therefore, to me it makes absolutely no sense for you to say “you’d rather not spend time and effort having to refute the [lies].” Why on earth not? And, it seems to me, it shouldn’t really be that difficult or time consuming for you to do so.
With the time and energy you’ve expended in your last two replies, you could instead have addressed at least two or three of the questions and issues I raised in my email this morning. Your failure/refusal to address even one of the questions/issues I raised in my email this morning, Steven, makes me suspect very strongly that you do not have a credible answer to any of the questions/issues I raised.
Ertelt had the last word—and you can clearly see why Rodney allowed him to have it:
I could waste another half hour of my day responding but you made it clear you’re in LDI’s corner and that you’re willing to accept the word of someone who trashes fellow pro-life Christians publicly (which speaks volumes about YOU). And I’ve been refuting…[LDI’s] lies about me for two decades now. I’m move than over it. And, ultimately, I don’t really care what some random person who emails me thinks.
Incidentally, despite his repeated claims, Ertelt has never contacted LDI for this or any reason in our 27 years of existence. Yet, even though there has been no request, we have sent the documentation to Ertelt—twice. We also gave the documentation to at least a dozen pro-life activists who said they wanted to send it to Ertelt themselves.
RealCatholicTV and Live Action
Simon Rafe of RealCatholicTV and Dave Schmidt of Live Action have engaged in deception regarding LDI. They have made accusations regarding the legitimacy and accuracy of our work and challenged the integrity of LDI leaders. Most of the derogatory comments made by these men regard the Corporate Funding Project. In accordance with Scripture, both have been confronted, but to no avail.
Once again, we are not talking about people speaking out of ignorance. We are talking about people who are calculatingly making statements they know to be false. A comment about their motive(s) would be mere conjecture, so we proffer none.
Another group to attack LDI is Personhood USA (PUSA). We are rather certain of the reasons for PUSA’s attitude. LDI has editorialized against petitions that are nothing more than fundraising ploys. PUSA urges people to sign petitions at virtually every pro-life event nationwide, including the March for Life, but it is done for the sole purpose of obtaining contact information for fundraising. And the gimmick has proven very lucrative. (Several others have also used the petition ruse, including Steve Ertelt. His LifeNews business seems to have a petition for a somewhat different “cause” every week.)
LDI has said that any group seeking signatures on a petition should be upfront regarding how the gathered information will be used, as well as to whom and by what date the petition will be delivered, and what will be done with the personal data afterwards. If the petition will be used for fundraising, prominent notice should be provided. The truth is despite the implication that a signer will be making his/her “voice heard,” virtually none of the petitions ever go to a person in a position of power—the person(s) to whom the petition is supposedly directed, if any. Therefore, in reality, signers are “petitioning” no one. In those very rare instances when a petition is delivered to a lawmaker, one can expect to find them in the trash can within 24 hours. Why? The petition is recognized as the least effective way to impact public policy. In fact, if effectiveness were to be put on a scale of one to ten, the petition would get a one—at the most. There are several reasons, the most important being that virtually anyone will sign a petition if asked, even if they know little, if anything—or even care—about, the subject of the petition. PUSA has not been happy with LDI because the practice of petition signature gathering is its primary source of income, followed closely by money made via email/mail appeals, using the data garnered from a petition. Despite our urgings, PUSA continues to utilize the misleading, but highly profitable, scheme.
Another PUSA practice LDI has editorialized against is the ballot initiative. The universal failure of ballot initiatives—even in the most conservative states—do nothing but tie the hands of state legislators. (For decades to come, pro-abortion activists will point to the result of the ballot measure, which shuts down even the thought of legislative action.) LDI has said the ballot initiative strategy may be exciting but is consistently a losing effort. Except for some possible residual educational benefit, money spent on such efforts is wasted. It would be better spent on a general pro-life education campaign. PUSA’s mission is to push the use of the initiative process to bypass state legislatures, despite the indisputable fact that the best hope for preborn children is, regrettably, through elected officials. This is one more reason PUSA is not a fan of LDI. (We have as received several reports that PUSA representatives criticize LDI’s work when they participate in various pro-life events. One report came from a member of our board of directors. The PUSA employee, Jennifer Mason, was clearly unaware of the connection.)
It should be noted that every statement made by LDI regarding petitions and ballot initiatives has been made in a professional manner and void of personal attack. In fact, no organization or individual has been criticized by name.
It is certainly the right of every person to express an opinion, even if it is negative toward LDI and/or our work. But using LDI’s work, the same work they criticize, to raise money is a bit much. In December 2012, PUSA sent a fundraising appeal to its huge email list that was headed, “This Christmas, Boycott Planned Parenthood!” (PUSA surely means boycott Planned Parenthood’s corporate supporters.) The year-end appeal continued:
Each year corporations give millions upon millions to Planned Parenthood through corporate donations and grants. Now, one pro-life organization has compiled a list of all the companies that send money to the biggest abortion provider in the nation. This Christmas we urge you to fight for life with your wallet and refuse to buy any product made by one of these abortion enablers. Here is a list of some of Planned Parenthood’s biggest corporate allies.
The implication is that a different group did the work, but PUSA came up with the idea of a boycott. PUSA had no contact with corporate officials. PUSA did no original research. In addition, the list of corporate donors is not exhaustive; not even close. PUSA consistently criticizes the Corporate Funding Project, but LDI’s work is apparently good enough to use for fundraising. The fundraiser was signed by PUSA’s legal counsel, Gualberto Garcia Jones.
Rude, to say the least, but PUSA’s next steps demonstrated great disrespect for LDI, our leadership and work. An LDI supporter, Tiffany M., had received PUSA’s Christmastime fundraising appeal. (Tiffany had signed a PUSA petition several years ago and has been getting pleas for money on a regular basis ever since.) Tiffany contacted PUSA via Facebook’s messenger. She sent to us a transcript of the exchange:
You are using the work of others to raise money for your group without even the basic decency of naming the organization responsible for publishing the list of boycotted companies. In your fund-raising email you should have urged people to get the entire Boycott List. Writing “Now [and for the past 20 years], one pro-life organization has compiled a list of all the companies…” is both insufficient and morally wrong! You also violate the organization’s copyright and rules regarding use of the material. Did you get special permission to do it as you have?
PUSA’s Jennifer Mason, who had publicly criticized LDI in the past, responded to Tiffany’s message:
I think that the message your are [sic] referring to is one that we gave others permission to send out. I’m very sorry if bad information was sent out, or if the right credit wasn’t attributed. How can I fix it? Please let me know what to include and I will try to do something about it as soon as possible. Thanks.
Suspecting the reply was nonsense, Tiffany sent a follow-up in which she mentioned the PUSA fundraising appeal:
The letter was signed by:
Gualberto Garcia Jones
The letter was clearly from a top leader of Personhood USA and I don’t see how it could have been written without intentionally/knowingly being deceptive. I don’t know how you can fix it but I’d begin by contacting Life Decisions International, apologizing, and asking them what you can do to fix it. LDI has been sent an exact replica of the letter…LDI does a lot of work for very little. They do not need to be taken advantage of. Thank you.
Weeks passed with no response from PUSA, so Tiffany sent a “reminder”—of sorts:
No response. Do you have any intention to do the right thing or should I just urge LDI to deal with you?
PUSA replied several days later, but this time the response was not “signed”:
In fact, the companies mentioned in our email were companies that LDI has made public to everyone without purchasing their list. Because so many people responded to the email with more questions about the boycott, many of them questioning the research, we sent another email to everyone on our list telling them to go to LDI as they were the source of the info. This information is public and I am not sure why you are so upset by making it public. Being pro-life is not a business, you know, and I would think that telling others about these companies would be exactly what LDI would want anyways [sic].
In other words, PUSA used LDI’s project—a project they abhor—to raise money. In so doing they referred people to LDI, requiring us to stop what was being done and look up corporate donor information to answer questions. Needless-to-say, LDI has not been alerted beforehand (or ever) to be prepared for the onslaught. LDI’s workload greatly increased, as did PUSA’s budget.
Some people on PUSA’s mailing list are LDI supports. Not one received the email described above. Tiffany became rather steamed:
Your response is stunning. This is not about purchasing the list. It is about who did the work. You admit you got the information from LDI and now that you raised money on LDI’s labor you are making LDI staff work even harder responding to inquiries from those who received your email. In other words, you get the money to run your group but the organization that is scraping by and did the magnificent work gets nothing to run their organization. Who made public the list of companies you sent out by email? Where did you get the list? What is the direct source of the list? They are the people who should be responding to the questions of people you emailed.
Being pro-life is not a business, you know, and I would think that telling others about these companies would be exactly what LDI would want anyways [sic].” Your implication that LDI is only trying to make a buck is both insulting and utterly ridiculous. (This coming from a group with a budget in the millions compared to LDI with an annual budget of less than $100,000.) If they are just trying to make a buck, they are bad at it. And people like you steal LDI’s work without even giving the group credit. LDI does want the word to go out but did not do the work for you to send out fundraising emails. Being pro-life is not a business, you know!
As I told you before, “I’d begin by contacting Life Decisions International, apologizing, and asking them what you can do to fix it.” But instead of doing what you can to “fix” the problem you compound it. Trust me, your leap from claiming ignorance (“one that we gave others permission to send out”) to an attempt to justify wrongdoing (“this information is public”) and making wild insinuations (“being pro-life is not a business”) will not fly—with anyone.
I think LDI should take care of this problem with a letter from a lawyer for your theft and intentional deception. I also will urge them to do a press release letting people know what you have done. You go from claiming the email “is one that we gave others permission to send out” to a lousy justification for wrongdoing. You need to do the right thing—the Christian thing—and you need to do it quickly. Doing so will help put this matter to rest before it gets out of hand.
Jennifer Mason responded:
I just got your message on the Personhood USA Facebook wall, and I’m totally shocked. You started with “Your response is stunning” but I have no idea what response you are referring to. Did you talk to someone at our office? As soon as I got your last message we sent out another email correction, and spoke to the vendor that sent out the email on our behalf. Then my husband (Keith Mason) tried to contact someone there (I’m not sure who it was). We didn’t get a response until we got an email message from someone there that said they would be sending us a letter. My husband responded that that was fine, but included his phone number and said that he would personally like to talk to someone at LDI. We never send out Boycott Lists, or promote them, but because we are overwhelmingly busy had outsourced some of our email contacts to another company to send emails out for us. They were supposed to send them to Keith for approval first, but failed to do so with this one email. We have been trying to remedy the situation, although we did not raise money off of this email. We have tried to send people in your direction to hopefully get more support for you. If someone has been in contact with you besides me, please send it to me asap (sic). I’d like to see this “stunning” response so I can deal with it appropriately.
Mason claimed to have no idea to what email Tiffany was referring, pleading ignorance about its content. This is odd since all Mason needed to do was look up to the previous message sent by PUSA on Facebook. The entire text of the “mystery” was right there and Mason surely knew it.
Mason said she was ignorant as to the person working for PUSA had access to its password protected Facebook page and claimed to have “sent out another email correction.” (Once again, our contacts on the PUSA email list received nothing. Absolutely nothing.) Furthermore, the statements regarding efforts to contact LDI are just plain lies.
Since PCUSA was surely never going to directly communicate with LDI, we sent an email to PUSA. Predictably, LDI’s email was ignored. It is a fact that LDI has received no communication from PUSA whatsoever. No voicemail messages. No emails. No letters. Nothing. LDI is open to viewing evidence to be contrary.
Tiffany responded to Mason’s message:
You don’t send out Boycott Lists or promote them, but you do try to raise money on The Boycott List published by others. How can you say you didn’t raise “any” money off that fundraising email? You made plenty of money. And why in the world would you not endorse the boycott? It’s been amazingly successful.
What is the name of the company you outsource the job to? Are you trying to tell me your general counsel did not see the email that went out over his name? How and when did your husband “try” to contact someone at LDI? I spoke with them yesterday and was told no one from your group has tried to contact them. (I support and occasionally volunteer for LDI, but I am not part of its staff or board.)
The next message from PUSA was unsigned, but clearly came from Mason:
I already explained that a vendor wrote an email and sent it out instead of sending it to us to proof read. So we do not “try to raise money on Boycott Lists of others”; as I explained we have never done this before. It was an aberration that was immediately corrected with a follow up email that gave all of the credit to LDI. I appreciate your concern over this matter, and I will continue to investigate which of the FB [Facebook] admins [administrators] sent that response to you. I am sorry that it was so abrupt. We will continue to try to reach out to the LDI staff from now on. I’m sorry to have kept bothering you over this.
Tiffany was not the least bit satisfied with the responses PUSA had sent so far:
It is not your messages to me that is bothersome. What is the name of the company you outsourced to? Did your general counsel not see the email before it went out over his name? How and when did your husband try to contact LDI?
I checked with other people who received your initial fundraising email and contacted LDI with my concerns. Not even one of them received a follow-up email from Personhood USA regarding LDI. Any idea why this would be the case?
We sent multiple emails to clear it up. There was an initial email, then it was the p.s. on two more after that. But as I said, I will be continuing this conversation with the leadership at LDI. Thanks!
The issue was addressed in the postscript of at least two emails? This is a far cry from the impression previously given. It is unfortunate not even one person seems to have received those emails.
Once again, Tiffany repeated her direct questions:
What is the name of the company you outsourced to? Did your general counsel not see the email before it went out over his name? How and when did you husband try to contact LDI? How much money did the fundraising email bring in?
Suddenly, Mason believed it somehow wrong to discuss this matter because Tiffany was not acting on behalf of LDI:
I’m really sorry, but now that I know you are not acting on behalf of LDI I don’t really feel comfortable discussing this with you any longer.
What? It is not as though the matter were a secret. It was not as though an untold number of people had received PUSA’s fundraising message. It was not as though one had to be part of LDI to be upset by what PUSA had done. Tiffany was contacting the group as a person who received the year-end fundraising email and not as a representative of LDI. She did not have to be a representative of LDI to have a direct interest in the matter.
As for the questions that were repeatedly asked but ignored, Mason wrote:
I’m pretty sure I answered all of those questions in previous messages. Thanks for your concern, and we’ll continue attempting to contact the LDI Leadership.
Mason must be kidding. She knows the questions were ignored every time. Rather than just provide the answers “again,” Mason claimed to have provided the information in an earlier message. Does Mason think Tiffany could be easily misdirected and was a gullible fool? Due to PUCA’s most recent ruse, Tiffany could not verify Mason’s claims of innocence and “unintended” error.
Tiffany sent one final—strongly worded—message:
You answered none of the questions and you don’t want to discuss this because I am asking too many questions—the kinds of questions that can determine whether or not you are being truthful. It is clear you are not being truthful. You have not tried to contact LDI. You did not outsource the emails. You did not send any follow-up emails to your list. You did raise plenty of money on the misleading email. Your general counsel did approve of the fundraising email. I, too, am finished with this discussion.
Obvious lying to cover up your sin will only make it worse. Sin on top of sin always does. You should have just told the truth, asked for forgiveness, and put this matter to rest. But you chose to dig the hole deeper and deeper because you do not regret what you did in the least, even though you know it is horribly sinful. And you call yourselves “Christian”? Shame! I will pray for you.
In an email to LDI, Tiffany M. said that, other than the flagrant lying, the most disturbing part of the exchange was Mason’s statement that PUSA would never endorse LDI’s boycott but are willing to call for a boycott when doing so includes an implication it was their idea and their project. Tiffany said she was also bothered by the feeling that Mason was just toying with her. “I could imagine them laughing and mocking,” Tiffany wrote. “They obviously didn’t care. And their story kept evolving. I’ll bet they didn’t even try to justify their ungodly actions to themselves. They have no moral conscience. It’s as though the sinful behavior means nothing. It is shameful.”
Tiffany closed her last message to Mason with several Scriptures about lying and deception but, so far, they have not motivated the people at PUSA to do the right thing; tell the truth, repent, and seek forgiveness, which, if sincere, would readily be given. As Tiffany put it, “Shameful. It is shameful on many different levels.” The Scriptures sent to Mason follow (emphasis is Tiffany’s, not ours) :
Proverbs 6:16-19 – There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.
Proverbs 12:22 – Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord…
Psalm 101:7 – No one who practices deceit shall dwell in my house; no one who utters lies shall continue before my eyes.
Ephesians 4:25 – Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.
Revelation 21:8 – But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.
Psalm 58:3 – The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray from birth, speaking lies.
James 3:14 – But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth.
Proverbs 21:6 – The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor and a snare of death.
Leviticus 19:11 – “You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; you shall not lie to one another.”
James 1:26 – If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.
Proverbs 13:5 – The righteous hates falsehood, but the wicked brings shame and disgrace.
Psalm 34:13 – Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit.
March for Life
Despite “working with” the head of March for Life for nearly three years, the group continues to patronize a boycotted hotel corporation for March for Life headquarters during the annual event. March for Life had endorsed the boycott when Nellie Gray was at the helm. Michael Schwartz, LDI’s founding chairman, and Kathy McEntee, leader of the Washington State March for Life and a member of LDI’s board of advisors, were March for Life board members when Nellie Gray was leader. Sadly, all three have since passed away (RIP) .
Nellie Gray, Michael Schwartz, and Kathy McEntee would never have done what the current March for Life board is doing. All three would have been furious if anyone had even suggested March for Life enter a business relationship with a boycott target.
The current March for Life leader, Jeanne Mancini, has been using the same excuses for the past three years. We have specifically addressed these points, but March for Life still refuses to do the right thing. Ironically, March for Life’s leader applauded LDI’s standards which she called “strong” and “fair.” Yet this apparently does not really matter to her.
The frosting atop this morally poisoned cake came in a radio interview when the March for Life chief attempted to separate the corporation’s parent company from a franchisee. Yet she has specifically praised how LDI handles corporations that operate on a franchise model. Knowing full well that such an argument was flawed at best, she announced that the Marriott-affiliated hotel in question does not itself give to Planned Parenthood and, worse yet, we learned that the hotel made a sizeable donation to March for Life. The March for Life could “have its [tainted] cake and eat it, too.” Mancini accepted what could be characterized as a bribe and ignores the boycott.
What message does this send to corporations that fund Planned Parenthood? More specifically, what message does this send to the Marriott Corporation? It’s simple. The Pro-Life Movement is not unified and can be divided even more by corporations. When LDI contacts corporations, they can completely ignore us, although they may laugh at or toy with us. (See excerpts from “Ethics, Morality and Economic Boycotts” below.) If a pro-life organization causes trouble, the corporation need only to the group. Money trumps principle, morality, ethics, and even the efficacy of the Pro-Life Movement.
from “Ethics, Morality and Economic Boycotts”:
A boycott will generally fail when it has unfocused leadership, employs inconsistent pressure, has insufficient organization and planning, makes unreasonable demands, or when those who support the cause behind the boycott will not participate. Corporate leaders expect consumers to be apathetic and believe any boycott will be a short-term irritation at the very worst. Corporate leaders count on human weakness and they far too often are not disappointed…
Another key problem that can greatly hinder the success of a boycott is second-guessing. Boycott leaders must be trusted to decide when the economic action should cease and what demands the offending corporation must meet before this can occur. If every individual decides what constitute sufficient grounds to end the action, the corporation may ignore boycott leaders.
Unity is essential. If boycott leaders are ignored, corporations can effectively disregard the economic action itself. This is only possible if the corporation can undermine boycott leaders and divide the loyalty of those who should naturally support the effort.
When groups that have endorsed a boycott or whose charter supports the same cause choose to openly and knowingly do business with targeted corporations, it can have a devastating effect. Regarding boycotts against corporate backers of Planned Parenthood, not only does it make the boycott laughable to corporate and pro-abortion leaders, it is just one more example of Christians who are not willing to back their words with action. The failure discourages others who had been faithfully participating in the boycott.
A relatively new organization is hoping to raise $5 million, which its founder says is the amount needed to effectively run the group. (LDI’s yearly budget is generally around of $75,000.) The group, 2ndVote, received a great deal of press coverage in July 2015, when it released the names of dozens of corporations that allegedly “directly” fund Planned Parenthood. No information about the alleged gifts was provided. Unfortunately, the 2ndVote list turned out to be largely inaccurate. Furthermore, there were several discrepancies between The Boycott Handbook published by LDI and the list by 2ndVote, which prompted several corporations to contact LDI asking why their company was a boycott target. We explained the list in question was in no way associated with LDI, but corporate executives began to wonder aloud why they must meet LDI’s standards if doing so does no good.
In December 2016, 2ndVote announced that Macy’s had stopped funding Planned Parenthood. While the group garnered much media coverage with this excellent, pre-Christmas news, Macy’s had taken the action nearly a decade ago.
It is important to keep in mind that 2ndVote tracks corporate giving in many areas; not just life issues. Support of Planned Parenthood is just one category and is given no more weight than any other cause. Consequently, a pro-life activist might boycott Target, which does not fund Planned Parenthood, but encourage patronage of a corporation like Expedia, which does give to Planned Parenthood. Expedia was on the 2ndVote Christmas Shopping Guide for being “neutral to conservative,” but it is in The Boycott Handbook for funding Planned Parenthood. 2ndVote included four confirmed supporters of Planned Parenthood in their “Christmas Shopping Guide” endorsements. In addition, 2ndVote referred to the Salvation Army as “pro-life.” The Salvation Army, which has no problem with “hard case” abortions (rape, incest and so forth), is one of several nonprofits on LDI’s list of “Charities Behaving Badly.”
Many pro-family organizations have published announcements made by 2ndVote, even though they are aware of LDI’s work. In a nutshell, while we believe the person at 2ndVote means well, he and those who spread the inaccuracies undercut our work and jeopardize 27 years of focus and success. LifeNews, who wrongly claims LDI’s list of boycott targets is grossly flawed, published the 2ndVote statements as gospel. (See fightpp.org/news/07-28-15 and fightpp.org/news/12-20-16 for much more information.)
Greedy Money-Hungry Machine
Several people have attacked LDI using the most hideous language; questioning our pro-life commitment and/or Christian faith. It is shocking that anyone would do such a thing, especially when they do it so ignorantly. Not one person has called to kindly inquire about our fundraising policy. (Shoot now and ask questions never.) They just attack in an awfully ungodly way, occasionally including threats (to tell people LDI is a scam, stealing from unsuspecting pro-lifers, getting “rich,” and so forth) .
Setting aside the way comments and accusations have been made, are any of them legitimate? We pass along to you two examples of our policies and practices relating to finances.
Several years ago, an executive from a boycotted corporation offered to make a “donation” to LDI. “How about if we give the same amount of money to you that we have given to Planned Parenthood ($5,000 per year for four years)?” she asked. LDI’s president said that would be fine. “Will you take us off your boycott list?” the corporate official responded. “Absolutely not, but we would still accept the gift and put it to effective use.” LDI’s position was clear. Oddly, LDI never received the donation. Isn’t that interesting?
A few years later, a Merrill Lynch executive asked for a personal meeting with LDI’s president. The meeting, held at the corporate headquarters (World Trade Center), was called to discuss “how we can work together.” Merrill Lynch wanted to create a “clean” fund so Christian investors could be convinced to continue doing business with the Company. (Merrill Lynch had received a growing number of requests for a “clean” fund.) A working relationship with LDI would also have served to persuade other potential investors to do business with the company.
LDI’s president was offered $25,000 per year, as well as an annual amount determined by how many customers chose the “clean” investment fund. In return, Merrill Lynch would be given exclusive rights to The Boycott List for its business purposes. (The exclusivity regarded selling rights to other profit-making entities; it would not have prohibited LDI from making it available to individuals and nonprofit groups.)
LDI’s response to Merrill Lynch was unambiguous. “The Boycott List was not created to help for-profit corporations get richer. LDI would not allow a company to use The Boycott List to set up a ‘clean’ investment portfolio to get business from pro-life/Christian individuals and organizations, especially knowing the company would be offering an ‘unclean’ fund for other customers. You can’t have it both ways.” Merrill Lynch was willing to negotiate its financial offer, but LDI’s president made it clear that, under the corporation’s current business model, LDI would not allow Merrill Lynch or any corporation be use The Boycott List. Therefore, Merrill Lynch executives need not waste their time. LDI’s leader politely excused himself and left the meeting.
LDI’s annual budget runs $50,000 – $85,000 per year. If we are only interested in money, we are doing a very bad job “fleecing” people. Every person associated with LDI has been faithful to God and our mission. And we will always do so.
There have been demonstrations of great disrespect outside the financial issue as well. One pro-family leader called to ask if her group could publish the entire Boycott Handbook in a newsletter. After we explained why doing so would be harmful to our efforts, her response was, “What if we do it anyway—without your permission? What are you going to do about it?” How unfortunate.
There is a lot of talk about the desire to defund Planned Parenthood. While Congress and individuals have talked for decades, not one penny of taxpayer money has been stopped. Only now do we have a real opportunity to defund the pro-abortion giant, although most legal scholars doubt such a ban would be allowed to stand once it reaches the courts. On the other hand, LDI supporters have kept more than $25.5 million out of Planned Parenthood coffers. It has taken persistence and patience, but it has been far easier and effective than trying to get action from Congress.
The effort to stop taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood should proceed, but let’s really get serious about keeping money away from the deadly behemoth. We know what strategies do and do not work. We know what can be accomplished without going through even one politician, some of whom must be begged for support. And the best part is the Supreme Court cannot force companies to support Planned Parenthood but may (are likely to) compel government (taxpayers) to do so.
About this Page: LDI addresses criticism here for two reasons. The first is that the offending groups can communicate with pro-life activists on a large scale. By comparison, this is a very ineffective way to respond, but it is the only way we must get the truth out to the public. (All of the criticizing groups have financial resources far greater than those of LDI. Their leaders know we do not have the money to defend ourselves.)
The second reason is that our attempts to convince the offending groups and individuals to do the right thing have borne no fruit. As stated above, they willingly and knowingly lie to and mislead pro-life activists—either for personal gain or to punish those who have legitimately and professionally questioned the efficacy of certain strategies and morality of some organizational practices, mostly related to fundraising.
It seems people who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ would not willingly lie to, steal, and demonstrate utter disrespect toward anyone, particularly their brothers and sisters in Christ. Some are willing to lie or even bear false witness at the drop of a hat—with seemingly no impact on the conscience. But all too often this assumption is proven naïve, which is truly shameful and utterly disappointing.
We want to note that saying someone is lying, bearing false witness, and so forth, is a gravely serious accusation. Such words should never be spoken lightly. In fact, only after attempts have been made to right the wrong—and with indisputable facts to back the accusation—should the words even be whispered. We use such powerful words with such a standard in mind.